Finished Stanford Stadium Stanford
With visions of Stanford star Christian McCaffrey still fresh in its memory, USC heads to Palo Alto on Saturday to face the sixth-ranked Cardinal in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. McCaffrey had a school-record 461 all-purpose yards to help Stanford clinch last season's Pac-12 title with a 41-22 victory over the Trojans in December.
The junior running back began this season's Heisman Trophy quest on Sept. 2 with 210 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in a 26-13 win over Kansas State, while USC followed its 52-6 loss to Alabama in the season opener with a 45-7 rout of Utah State. Stanford defeated USC twice last season and has won six of the last eight meetings, but seven of the past 10 games have been decided by eight points or fewer. After failing to score a touchdown in its opener against Alabama, USC bounced back against Utah State by jumping to a 31-0 lead and finishing with 422 total yards - including 178 on the ground. The Trojans will need an even better performance to keep pace with Stanford and McCaffrey, who has collected at least 200 all-purpose yards in seven consecutive games.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Stanford -9.5
ABOUT USC (1-1): Max Browne threw for 182 yards last week and connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster for two touchdowns after the star wideout was held to one catch against Alabama in the opener. USC will look to control the clock behind a solid offensive line and running back Justin Davis, who ran for 99 yards against Stanford in last season's Pac-12 title game and gained 70 on 16 carries last week against Utah State. The Trojans need improvement from their defensive line but have a shutdown cornerback in Adoree' Jackson, who returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown last week and could be the most dynamic player on the field besides McCaffrey.
ABOUT STANFORD (1-0): Senior Ryan Burns made his first career start against Kansas State and threw for a serviceable 156 yards with one touchdown, but he'll receive a tougher test against USC's secondary. Starting defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (knee) likely will miss Saturday's contest, while running back Bryce Love (leg) is expected to return after missing the opener but figures to see limited playing time behind McCaffrey, who will receive another heavy workload against the Trojans. "Great players need to touch the ball," coach David Shaw told reporters. "Last year, he had over 400 (touches). But he doesn't get hit hard a lot. His 400 may not be like 400 for somebody else."
1. The Cardinal are 47-6 at Stanford Stadium since 2008.
2. USC has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown in its last four games
3. Stanford is 7-1 in its last eight conference openers, with the lone setback being a 13-10 loss to USC in 2014.
PREDICTION: Stanford 31, USC 17
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